Students vie for $1,000 prize at 6th annual Entrepreneurship Summit

Aspiring entrepreneurs pitched real ideas to students, faculty and alumni

Danika Brockman

With dozens of alumni in Lexington for Friday and Saturday’s Williams School-sponsored Entrepreneurship Summit, there was no better time for students interested in launching their own businesses to seek advisors and investors—or to just take home some cash.

Nearly half of the pitches presented on Saturday morning in Stackhouse Theater reflected concepts that are already in development, including a student-centered food delivery service and an app meant to help high school students through the college admissions process.

Nine students presented their pitches, representing a fraction of the 27 who originally applied to participate in the competition. The applications go through a streamlining process to limit the number of pitches heard at the competition.

“I send them out to all of the [registered] alumni, so it went out to 130 alumni,” said Professor Jeff Shay, who teaches entrepreneurship, advises the Venture Club, and directs the summit.

The alumni voted and the top 15 applicants were sent to students in the Venture Club, who then narrowed the field to the finalists.

First, second, and third place winners of the competition were decided by ballots distributed to audience members, with attached prizes of $1000, $500, and $250, respectively.

Voters decided that Maren Lundgren, ‘18, had the best pitch, which introduced a not-for-profit idea that would provide women in Nigeria, particularly schoolgirls, with reusable menstrual kits to improve school attendance.

Lundgren, who developed the idea with a group of students in an entrepreneurship class, said she will explore the possibility of turning the concept into a reality.

“Hopefully by the end of the semester we’ll have a much clearer image of exactly what needs to happen to move forward but we’re really excited about the possibilities.”

The second place pitch, presented by Michelle Dreimann, ‘19, offered a sock design that includes multi-purpose pockets. Dreimann said she has been working on the product with her two sisters and that they are currently seeking a patent.

“Right now, we’re … trying to engage our market, see if runners will be our ideal market or if we should focus more on a different market,” she said.

Maggie Ma, ‘18, introduced a website that would link wedding planners and couples with musicians—a pitch that landed her third place. She said she plans on using her prize money for her project whenever possible.

“I do have a full-time job lined up,” she explained. “So I think after that opportunity kind of ends, I will definitely pursue something like this on my own…if I do start my own business, I think it will be very similar to this concept.”

The competitors, judges, and organizers have all praised the competition for its utility to students in terms of networking,

opportuni-ties to practice public pitching, and confidence building.

“It’s always energizing to know that there are other people out there that are innovating and doing exciting things and that have been through rough patches before but have come out on top,” Lundgren said. “It’s really encouraging for the students.”

Ma described how “the questions that the audience asked were really great and intentional,” and said that these questions can give students “practice to deliver and execute the delivery of a pitch, which goes a long way.”